Enel Green Power, Sharp and STMicroelectronics today signed anagreement for the manufacture of triple-junction thin-film photovoltaicpanels in Italy. At the same time, Enel Green Power and Sharp signed afurther agreement to jointly develop solar farms.
The agreementregarding the photovoltaic panel factory follows the Memorandum ofUnderstanding signed in May 2008 by Enel Green Power and Sharp.STMicroelectronics has joined this strategic partnership.
Thisagreement marks the first time that three global technology andindustrial powerhouses have joined together in an equal partnership tocontribute their unique value-add to the solar industry.
Itbrings together Enel Green Power, with its international marketdevelopment and project management know-how; Sharp, and its exclusivetriple-junction thin-film technology, which will be operational in themother plant in Sakai, Japan as of spring 2010; and STMicroelectronics,with its manufacturing capacity, skills and resources in highlyadvanced, hi-tech sectors such as microelectronics.
The factory,located in Catania in the existing M6 facility to be contributed bySTMicroelectronics, is expected to have an initial production capacityof 160 MW per year. The plant’s capacity is targeted to be graduallyincreased to 480 MW per year over the next years and right from itsstart will represent the single most important production facility forsolar panels in Italy. Photovoltaic panel manufacturing at the Cataniaplant is expected to start at the beginning of 2011.
The projectof 160 MW will require a total investment of 320 Million euros and willbe funded by a combination of equity, state grants and projectfinancing with no recourse to the Joint Venture’s shareholders beyondtheir quota in the Joint Venture. Each partner will subscribe one thirdof the equity – an expected contribution up to 70 million Euros each,either in cash or in-kind – and will hold one third of the shares inthe new Joint Venture Company.
The factory output will be usedto serve the most attractive solar markets in the EMEA (Europe, MiddleEast and Africa) region with a particular focus on the Mediterraneanarea. In this region, Enel Green Power and Sharp already have importantsales networks and also plan to jointly develop solar farms.
Enel.si,the Enel Green Power company specializing in the installation ofphotovoltaic systems in the retail market, will also participate in themarketing effort, offering panels directly and through its franchiseenetwork of over 500 qualified installers in Italy.
Enel GreenPower and Sharp have signed an additional agreement aimed at thecreation of an equal joint venture to develop solar farms. The goal isto install cumulative capacity at a level of 500 MW by the end of 2016,making use of the photovoltaic panels manufactured at the Cataniafactory. The effectiveness of the agreements signed by the parties isconditional upon the clearance released by the relevant authoritiesconcerned.
Triple-junction thin-film photovoltaic panels areparticularly suitable for medium and large-scale photovoltaic powergeneration. Compared to ordinary silicon solar panels, thetriple-junction thin-film photovoltaic modules are able to maintain avery high level of energy conversion efficiency even in very hotclimates. Thanks to their lower silicon content, these modules are alsoless exposed to raw silicon price volatility.
Catania representsan ideal location as it takes full advantage of an existingsemiconductor plant and related facilities as well as of very importantworkforce skilled in silicon-based manufacturing.
In addition,Catania hosts Conphoebus, an Enel research center fully dedicated torenewable sources, solar in particular, and energy savings. Moreover,Sicily is one of the key regions in the Mediterranean area for thedevelopment of solar farms and provides a unique location for alllogistics necessary to reach the neighboring markets.